The Juneau-Douglas High School hockey team never stopped shooting the puck in the Division II state hockey quarterfinals on Thursday in Wasilla.
Senior Dalton Hoy scored five goals and the Crimson Bears totaled 50 shots on goal in a resounding 8-1 win over Tri Valley, clinching the program’s first-ever appearance in the state semifinals, which was played Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Homer.
“We had a high expectation for that game and we were looking forward to putting that one away and moving on,” said junior Ethan Welch, who tallied one goal. Seniors Ronan Lynch and Kyler Alderfer got the other two goals for Juneau.
Demetrios Raisis furnished Tri Valley’s lone goal late in the first period to break a 3-0 shutout.
“We definitely had a little more depth than the Tri Valley team but they had a great work ethic and we struggled to capitalize and get some goals early in the game,” JDHS coach Luke Adams said. “But as the game progressed, we found our plays and created some opportunities.”
JDHS killed off a 5-on-3 power play early in the second period while leading 3-1. Hoy and Sam Bovitz were sent to the penalty box three seconds apart from each other, opening the door to a Warriors power-play strike that would have cut the lead to just one goal.
But Juneau goaltender Cody Mitchell made several key stops to keep the score stable. Senior defenseman Cameron Smith helped Mitchell’s cause with his quick feet on a play Adams called a “turning point,” even if it didn’t result in a goal. Smith took the puck hard up the ice and into the Warriors’ end to help kill off the penalties.
“As a captain, he understands how to impact the momentum of the game,” Adams said. “In that moment, we really needed a boost. We rely on our upperclassmen to take those situations and build momentum for the rest of the guys.”
JDHS doubled its lead by the end of the second session. Welch scored with an assist from Bill Bosse with 9:04 left to go up 4-1. Seven minutes later it was Hoy burying his third goal of the game on a feed from Lynch.
“Once you get one person that starts stepping it up, other people see that, and they pick up on that real quick,” Welch said.
JDHS got the better of Tri Valley in two previous games this season, winning 7-1 in Fairbanks and 6-3 in Juneau. Adams rested some of his seniors in those games — and a 3-2 loss in a separate game — to build up the experience for the younger players on the team.
“We wanted to put them in new roles where they could take new opportunities and build off them,” Adams said. “We take a lot of pride in developing players in our program and any opportunity we can do that we’re going to jump on it.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2722 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.